Annulment, or nullity of marriage, is the declaration by the court that a marriage is invalid. A Judgment of Nullity of Marriage creates the unique situation that the marriage never occurred in the first place. It is as if the marriage were “erased” from the records.
Much has been and can be written about marital annulments. Most importantly, it is vital to understand that there are very stringent, limited, statutorily defined grounds in California for obtaining a Judgment of Nullity of Marriage. The most common ground requires proving that there was fraud that induced the other party to enter into the marriage; not just ordinary fraud, but fraud that goes to the “essence of the marriage.” Other grounds for nullity include incest, bigamy, force, physical incapacity to consummate the marriage, unsound mind and being underage at the time of the marriage.
The judicial preference in California is to recognize that a marriage existed rather than that one did not exist. The courts apply the statutes very strictly, and the burden of proof falls entirely on the party seeking to annul the marriage. In many cases, it is more cost-effective to concede that the marriage exists and pursue a divorce instead; however, there are some situations where a nullity of marriage is the preferred and just outcome.
If you are considering an annulment, you should discuss the pros and cons, as well as the expense, with us prior to filing your documents. We can guide you through the process and help you make the best choice for your own situation.
Contact us or call (925) 465-2500 or (707) 398-6008 for more information or to schedule an initial consultation at Sparks Family Law, Inc. with attorney Gary D. Sparks.